Robert Woodsum

Two More Democrats Stand Up to the FCC's Internet Takeover

Posted by Robert Woodsum on Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010, 10:55 AM PERMALINK

Reps. Ben Chandler (D-Ky.) and Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), joining over 80 other democrats in the House and Senate, recently sent letters to Federal Communication Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski urging him to abandon his attempts at regulating broadband Internet as a monopoly telephone service.  It is believed by the representatives that it is the responsibility of Congress to determine the legal framework of broadband, not the FCC.

In his letter, Rep. Grayson states that:  "If the FCC strays outside the statutory boundaries established by Congress, the results can be profoundly anti-democratic.”  Clearly Genachowski needs to realize his mistake in following this plan to reclassify broadband.  Both of these letters also come in the wake of a bi-partisan resolution, which expresses that the FCC wait for Congress to decide on any reclassification of broadband Internet.

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Dingell Frustrated with FCC's Internet Takeover

Posted by Robert Woodsum on Friday, July 30th, 2010, 10:45 AM PERMALINK

Nearly two months after Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) sent a letter to FCC Chairman Genachowski questioning the FCC's proposed Internet regulations, a response was finally returned on Monday.  It took two letters from the Representative to elicit a response from the Chairman, which really is just another case of Genachowski ignoring Congress.  In the original letter, Dingell urged Genachowski to abandon his attempts at reclassifying broadband, effectively giving the FCC authority over the internet.  Dingell believes this is a Congressional issue, and that FCC is overstepping its authority in these attempts.

Last week Dingell sent Genachowski a second letter, again discouraging Genachowski’s plans, citing there was no legal backing the FCC could use to follow through with reclassification.  After finally receiving a response, Dingell was less than impressed, still feeling that the FCC should wait to be given more power, instead of assuming authority. From the letter:

“Unfortunately, the paucity of substantive responses to my aforementioned questions in your recent letter has served only to substantiate my fear that the Commission’s proposed path with respect to the regulation of broadband is based on unsound reasoning and an incomplete record...

I worry that hurried action by the Commission to complete a rulemaking or issue a declaratory ruling concerning the classification of broadband Internet access services in the absence of a clear statutory mandate from the Congress will result in poor policy and protracted litigation, which itself will confound the Congress’ and the Commission’s efforts to encourage further investment in broadband infrastructure, create new jobs, and stimulate broadband adoption as we seek to implement network neutrality rules.

With this in mind, I reiterate my suggestion that the Commission abandon the classification effort it has set in motion and instead seek the authority it requires by asking the Congress to enact a statute that clearly delegates such authority.  In this way, the Congress and Commission may ensure the steadfast legal foundation for an open internet.”

Opposition to the FCC's unilateral Internet regulation scheme is still growing; does the FCC and Genachowski need more public scoldings to end this ridiculous campaign?

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Progressives Speak Out Against Internet Regulation

Posted by Robert Woodsum on Thursday, July 22nd, 2010, 11:06 AM PERMALINK

On Tuesday, the Progressive Policy Institute released a report, “The Coming Communications Boom?  Jobs, Innovation, and Countercyclical Regulatory Policy”, which stands to oppose the Federal Communication Commission’s desire to rule the Internet.  The report looks at this issue through an analysis of past recessions.  In these past recessions, there is an always an industry leader in job growth.  The key to this job growth, however, was a lack of regulation.  According to the report’s author, economist Michael Mandel, an industry needs the freedom to flourish and gain momentum.  Only after its success should there be any thought of regulation to continue a steady growth.  Mandel also believes that the communications sector will be the next leading industry during our current slump:

“Today, the broad communications sector is an innovation success story in an otherwise sluggish economy. And that success feeds on itself. The internet companies have access to bigger potential markets as the broadband providers deepen and extend their networks. The broadband companies benefit from innovative applications that drive traffic and demand. And the applications developers, small and large, are able to take advantage of new capabilities.”

Any regulation by the government on the innovative growth of the communications sector, i.e. Internet and broadband growth, will only stifle innovation.  Mandel so aptly puts it:  “In the worst case scenario, the incipient communications boom may be potentially undermined by a threat of aggressive federal rule-making.”  Furthermore, regulations need to be curtailed even, to create the perfect environment for innovation.  Mandel refers back to the tech and housing booms and notes that “permissive regulatory policy” was an important factor that lead to those industries’ respective successes.  Internet and broadband innovation will require that same regulatory philosophy.  “The innovative process is more fragile than it seems, so tightening up regulation at this early stage can potentially choke off the boom. Indeed, regulators should give the benefit of the doubt to innovative industries.”

Mandel’s report just reinforces other scholars and their research on Internet and broadband regulation and its potential negative affects on the economy.  Mandel and the Progressive Policy Institute also join members of Congress from both political parties, as well several leading minority and diversity groups in opposing the FCC and broadband reclassification.  Who else needs to voice their opposition before the FCC finally realizes the detrimental affects Internet regulation and Net Neutrality will inflict upon the economy?

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Minorities Stand Up Against Internet Regulation

Posted by Robert Woodsum on Tuesday, July 20th, 2010, 10:11 AM PERMALINK

On Monday, a group of minority organizations issued a letter to Congress urging members to oppose the Federal Communication Commission’s need to reclassify broadband Internet and assume regulatory powers.  The letter comes with a legal defense, challenging the FCC’s authority to enact such rulemaking.  They also believe that reclassification will hinder any efforts to expand broadband across the country.  These organizations, which include 100 Black Men of America Inc., Hispanic Telecommunication and Technology Partnership, Japanese American Citizens League, and the Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund, join the growing bipartisan Congressional opposition of this ploy by the FCC.

“In light of the FCC's recent adoption of a Notice of Inquiry on broadband classification, we, the undersigned civil rights and other organizations, have concerns about the unintended implications that such efforts could have on the state of broadband deployment and adoption across the country.  Rather, we urge you and your colleagues in Congress to step in and clarify the scope and direction of the FCC's authority, thereby restoring certainty and clarity to the broadband environment.”

These groups comprehend the detrimental effects that accompany any regulation and reclassification.  Public display of opposition is no longer limited to members of Congress, but is spreading to minority groups and others.  The FCC must recognize this and abandon all attempts at controlling the Internet.


Read the full letter here.

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Rep. Culberson Rebuts Free Press on FCC Authority to Regulate the Internet

Posted by Robert Woodsum on Wednesday, July 14th, 2010, 12:03 PM PERMALINK

The two groups, Free Press and Public Knowledge have been attempting to coerce the public into believing that the Federal Communications Commission does indeed have the power, authority, and approval to regulate the Internet under current rulemaking.  While Free Press and Public Knowledge are ignoring Congressional discouragement and championing the FCC’s regulatory authority, the exact opposite is true.  No such statute allows the FCC to justify regulating the Internet.

In a recent op-ed by Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) in Roll Call, Culberson rebuts the socialists at Free Press and Public Knowledge.  Culberson has also announced he will introduce an amendment to prohibit any taxpayer dollars going towards regulating the internet.  He understands the history of the Internet being an information service and recognizes that the FCC holds no regulatory powers.  He even confronts FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski on this issue who proceeds to flat out ignore the question.  From his op-ed:

“Last month, Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, argued before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services that the FCC does, in fact, have this authority. I asked him to show me the statute that gave the FCC the authority, but he dodged the question and remarked that FCC lawyers believe they can reclassify broadband in such a way that grants the FCC the authority to regulate the Internet.

Relevant to this discussion are two classifications of communications and the regulatory rules that they are subject to under the Communications Act of 1934, as rewritten in 1996. Broadband Internet has long been classified as an “information service,” which is subject only to the ancillary authority defined in Title I of the law. This classification was upheld in 2005 by the Supreme Court in the Brand X case. The second category is “telecommunications” service, which is subject to mandatory regulation under Title II.

Earlier this year, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled in the case of Comcast Corp. v. Federal Communications Commission that the FCC has neither express nor ancillary authority to regulate the Internet. In fact, the opinion of the court even states that ‘[i]n this case, the Commission does not claim that Congress has given it express authority to regulate Comcast’s Internet service.”’


Read the entire Roll Call op-ed here.

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Internet Kill-Switch One Step Closer to Law

Posted by Robert Woodsum on Tuesday, July 6th, 2010, 10:55 AM PERMALINK

Earlier in the month, Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) proposed the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act (PCNAA).  Simply put, this bill would provide the President with emergency powers to shut down portions of the internet during a supposed “cyber attack.”  A recent amendment mandates that the President would retain controlling powers for 120 days, after which Congressional approval is necessary.  In addition, this also allows the President to force private businesses to comply and shut down any and all of their Internet network operations.  During this period, the government is not liable whatsoever for any loss of sales.  For those companies that rely solely on the internet, this is a huge blow to private business practice, let alone a blatant, unnecessary exercise of Internet regulation and control.

Last week, a Senate Committee approved PCNAA and the next step is the Senate floor.  Also last week, 24 Civil Liberties Groups sent a letter raising concerns over this proposed legislation, believing the bill is not detailed enough and gives too much authority to the would be created National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications.  PCNAA needs to be opposed to prevent the creation of a new federal bureaucracy to control the Internet, and to protect privacy, fair business practice, and most importantly, free speech online.

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Democratic Governor Opposes Net Neutrality

Posted by Robert Woodsum on Tuesday, July 6th, 2010, 10:48 AM PERMALINK

In yet another public showing of bipartisan opposition against Net Neutrality and the FCC’s desire to regulate the Internet, Oklahoma’s Democratic Governor Brad Henry joined the 77 House and Senate democrats fighting for a free Internet.  In a recent oped by Gov. Henry, he denounces the FCC’s plan to regulate broadband Internet under the archaic Federal Communications Act of 1934.  Oklahoma itself has already enacted a “hands off” approach to broadband resulting in increased expansion into rural counties, increased subscription, and a 50% price decrease.

While the arguments against Net Neutrality are not changing, what is prevalent is the growing numbers of Democrats to denounce the FCC’s broadband regulation and Net Neutrality rulemakings.  Oklahoma is just an example of how a free Internet will continue to thrive without government regulation.  While the argument is clear, now is the time to continue gaining bipartisan support to defeat this serious threat to regulate the Internet.  Apparently 77 Democrat and over 200 Republican Members of Congress are not enough for the FCC to listen.  Everyday people like Gov. Henry join the opposition.  The FCC cannot ignore this any longer.

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ATR's Net Neutrality Policy Brief

Posted by Robert Woodsum on Friday, June 25th, 2010, 4:08 PM PERMALINK

Today, ATR released a Policy Brief on the topic of Net Neutrality and the federal government’s Internet takeover.  The Policy Brief outlines a brief history of Net Neutrality, the many negative consequences of Internet regulation, and the broad bipartisan opposition to it.  With the recent FCC proceeding on broadband reclassification, now more than ever is the time to be informed about this dangerous threat to an open, unregulated Internet.  From the Policy Brief:

Net Neutrality would permit the federal government to regulate how Internet service providers (ISPs) manage content and data that travels across their networks.  Proponents claim such regulation will ensure all online data is treated equally, but the policy will result in decreased investment in broadband expansion and adoption, increased congestion on the Internet, and will effectively turn our nation’s Internet into a public utility; a network of government-run “dumb pipes.”

Click here to download a copy.

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DeMint: Defender of the Internet

Posted by Robert Woodsum on Monday, June 21st, 2010, 5:18 PM PERMALINK

In response to the Federal Communication Commission’s egregious over-stepping to regulate the Internet through broadband reclassification, Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) announced that he will soon introduce legislation to finally rein in the FCC.  The Freedom for Consumer Choice Act (FCC Act) will fight the FCC bureaucrats’ attempts at imposing Net Neutrality and excising taxes and regulations over the Internet.  The FCC Act will protect consumers and the Internet by calling for FCC reform.

The FCC’s “power grab” would give the agency overly broad authority, allowing the government to regulate how data flows through networks and opening the door to price controls on Internet service.  The FCC Act will fight against this.  Reforming the FCC to “a market-based, antitrust-style framework, using an ‘unfair competition’ standard” is what the U.S. needs, not an organization that routinely interprets its authority based on political whim.  This bill would also call for the FCC to utilize timelines on all regulatory decisions and rulemakings.  After five years the proposals would be void, unless there is an express choice to renew them.

The FCC has already ignored court decisions, public disapproval, and bipartisan opposition against imposing regulations on the Internet.  While the details are not yet available, Sen. DeMint’s Freedom for Consumer Choice Act appears to be a bold step in fighting against the FCC and upholding the freedom of the Internet.

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Net Neutrality to Inflict Losses in Jobs and GDP

Posted by Robert Woodsum on Friday, June 18th, 2010, 11:19 AM PERMALINK

This week, the director of The Advanced Communications Law & Policy Institute of the New York Law School, Charles M. David, and Bret Swanson, president of Entropy Economics, a technology research firm, released a report highlighting the negative effects of Net Neutrality on job loss and GDP.  Stratecast released a similar report recently, and this new report stands to reinforce those assertions.  If Net Neutrality and other internet regulations are enacted, there will be a direct correlation in job losses and the U.S.’s Gross Domestic Product.  The report summarizes that “Davidson and Swanson analyzed the hundreds of billions of dollars in broadband network expansion and upgrades over the past decade and determined they generated hundreds of thousands of jobs, annually contribute tens of billions of dollars to GDP, and have spurred innovation across the content and device sectors.” 

As the economy is still in a “fragile state”, imposing any regulations along these lines will only damage the economy further.  Swanson and David predict that over the next five years, broadband innovators will invest approximately $30 billion annually in fiber optic and wireless networks, resulting in 500,000 jobs.  This, in turn, will spur others in the “broadband ecosystem” to invest at least $18 billion annually, creating 450,000 jobs.  Net Neutrality restrictions, however, would result in anywhere from 500,000-700,000 jobs lost and decrease the GDP by $62-$80 billion.

It can’t be stressed enough that the FCC’s wishes of instituting Net Neutrality and placing regulation on the Internet is the best way to kill Internet growth and innovation.  Yesterday, the FCC put out a notice of inquiry to begin such rulemaking.  This report is yet another reason to oppose the FCC’s pursuit to regulate the Internet.

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